Tim and Liz Kohler knew that remodeling the kitchen of their 1929
Shorewood home would make the home more functional.
During a prior renovation, a previous homeowner had ripped out the
radiators in the kitchen and the room had no heat.
Beyond that, the kitchen lacked dining space. "We wanted to
have centrally located space where we could all gather, do homework,
eat and prepare meals," Kohler says. By removing the wall between
the kitchen and dining room and stealing some space from that room,
they gained nearly 50 square feet of space for the kitchen.
The Kohlers have two children, Nicholas, 7, and Amelia, who was
born in December.
didnít realize how much it was going to impact our lives," Liz
says. "It is just so much easier cooking and cleaning up."
Study in contrast: Liz Kohler chose a black, white and brown color
scheme for the room. "I like the contrast of the darker colors
with the white," she says. The cabinets are poplar wood painted
white, the countertop is a DuPont Zodiaq solid surface material in
cloud white and the island is Zodiaq lunar pearl, which brings in dark
brown, black and taupe. The floor tile is a black and brown marble
with white swirls.
Taking charge: After receiving bids between $48,000 and $72,000,
Kohler decided to act as the general contractor for the project. The
space was gutted to the studs and completed in five weeks at just
under $25,000, including a new dishwasher and refrigerator.
DIY tip: "Create the basic design yourself," Kohler says.
"You know better than anyone else what changes you want in your
kitchen. Then buy an hour or two or three from an interior designer
and have them poke at your design." Her designer recommended an
independent builder who then referred to her subcontractors for the
Though the 1960s kitchen of their Glendale home had been remodeled
in the 1980s, Milwaukee Kitchen and Bath owners Paul and Rachel
Greenspan wanted to update it to reflect their tastes and needs after
they purchased the home 11 years ago.
Their goals were to improve storage and create a better working
space for Rachel, the cook of the family. Paul is strictly a grill
guy. They have two children, Rebecca, 13, and Avi, 10.
"We have a nice long countertop, which is great for doing prep
work," Paul Greenspan says. "Everything flows very
In addition, Avi suffers from celiac disease, which prohibits the
bodyís autoimmune system from absorbing gluten, so the kitchen was
designed with separate cabinets and appliances to avoid
cross-contamination of foods in the household.
center island is topped with granite and the perimeter counters are
Corian. "Corian is warmer to the touch, a softer feel than
granite," Greenspan says.
The bottom cabinets are maple with a natural stain and the upper a
cherry wood with red stain.
Maximizing storage: To accomplish one of the major goals of the
remodel, the Greenspans removed soffits and installed wall cabinets
that are deeper than standard.
Keeping it clean: The upper cabinets feature perforated aluminum
sandwiched between two pieces of glass. "The perforated aluminum
disguises whatís in the cabinets so you donít have to worry about
keeping everything perfect," Greenspan says; the glass protects
the aluminum from dust.
Harmonizing hues: Slate tiles behind the stovetop and the
multitoned laminate flooring ties the colors of the room together; the
flooring is also used in the adjoining family room. "What we did
with both the floor and slate on the walls was more for color
transition," Greenspan says. The darker wine tones pull in the
red cabinets and the lighter tones go with the maple.
Lighting concept: Due to the narrowness of the space, the
Greenspans opted for recessed lighting instead of a combination of
pendant and recessed lighting. "We didnít want to break up the
line of sight through the kitchen," Greenspan says.
grass is greener
When the house next door was being put up for sale, Marc Cayle
purchased it, hoping to make a few improvements and "flip"
the house for a profit.
But once he started knocking down walls, he saw the possibilities
of the 1961 Mequon split level. And after the birth of their second
child, he realized his family was outgrowing its current house. He
convinced wife Linda they should keep the second house for themselves
and sell the one in which they were living. "The kicker was that
it was right next door," Marc says. "That really made it
The Cayles and their children, Tori, now 7, and Jared, now 3, are
enjoying their expanded living quarters, thanks to the work of Olde
focal point of the entire-house renovation is the expansive kitchen
and dining area, which encompasses the former kitchen, living room and
"There were walls where the island is currently," Cayle
says. And to the right of the stairway was a second stairway that led
to the basement, which Cayle eliminated. "That gave us a nice
spot for the pantry," he says. "It would have been dead
In the adjoining dining area is a large table and fireplace, which
take the place of a formal dining room. "It winds up absolutely
as the gathering place," he says of the new space. "Most of
the time people are gathered around the island. Itís difficult to
move people to another part of the house," he says. Even the
allure of a big-screen TV in the family room isnít enough of a draw,
Savvy upgrades: Marc Cayle had originally ordered Silestone for the
counters and islands, but the retailer couldnít get it at the last
minute and offered to replace it with granite at the same price.
Likewise, oak floors turned into wide-planked Brazilian cherry when
the dealer offered them to him at the price of oak.
DIY tip: "Use the professionals as much as possible,"
Cayle says, to gather ideas and suggestions for design and materials.
"The contractors were very, very helpful in identifying ways to
use the space, to improve the flow."
of stainless steel
When Mike and Teresa LaRosa were building their Cedarburg log home,
Mike was adamant about the look of the kitchen.
"There arenít a lot of men who have a lot to say about the
kitchen design," says kitchen and bath designer Chuck Steele with
In Sync Designs in Menomonee Falls. But in this case, Mike was heavily
involved to ensure the end result would be a functional work space.
"The ultimate goal in designing the kitchen was
function," Steele says. "Mike loves good food and likes to
Itís also a kitchen meant for entertaining. Guests in the
adjoining family room are welcome in the kitchen, too.
"Because the home is a log home, they wanted to keep that very
warm, family style look," Steele says. Cabinets are alder wood
stained a warm brown. Glass doors on some of the cabinets help to open
up the space. Counter and island surfaces are quartz.
Cook-friendly features: Convenience and accessibility were of
primary concern in designing this cookís kitchen. A large pantry
area features 12-inch deep shelves, instead of the standard 24-inch
deep shelves, so that when Mike reaches in for an item, itís right
in front of him.
Shop first, design later: When planning a new kitchen, designer
Chuck Steele advises clients to shop for appliances before they begin
the design process. "Because there are so many new and different
appliances out there, you need to do your appliance shopping
first," he says. In the case of the LaRosa kitchen, he says, Mike
fell in love with a 5-foot wide refrigerator-freezer, which altered
the layout of the kitchen, including moving a wall to accommodate the
unit. "Your choices directly impact the placement of the
appliances and the cabinets around them," he says.